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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Nov 15;22(10):927-34.

Melatonin improves bowel symptoms in female patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a double-blind placebo-controlled study.

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1
Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Melatonin is involved in the regulation of gastrointestinal motility and sensation.

AIM:

To determine the potential therapeutic effects of melatonin in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

METHOD:

Seventeen female patients satisfying the Rome II criteria for IBS were randomized to receive either melatonin 3 mg nocte or identically appearing placebo 1 nocte for 8 weeks, followed by a 4-week washout period and placebo or melatonin in the reverse order for another 8 weeks. Three validated questionnaires - the GI symptom, the sleep questionnaires and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale - were used to assess symptom severity and to compute the IBS, sleep and anxiety/depression scores, respectively.

RESULTS:

Improvements in mean IBS scores were significantly greater after treatment with melatonin (3.9 +/- 2.6) than with placebo (1.3 +/- 4.0, P = 0.037). Percent response rate, defined as percentage of subjects achieving mild-to-excellent improvement in IBS symptoms, was also greater in the melatonin-treated arm (88% vs. 47%, P = 0.04). The changes in mean sleep, anxiety, and depression scores were similar with either melatonin or placebo treatment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Melatonin is a promising therapeutic agent for IBS. Its therapeutic effect is independent of its effects on sleep, anxiety or depression.

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